Public cash boosts the big charities

Cash from the public sector to deliver services is benefiting large
voluntary organisations, but small- and medium-sized ones are
struggling, the chief executive of a leading voluntary sector
organisation said last week.

Stuart Etherington, of the National Council of Voluntary
Organisations, urged bigger charities to help smaller ones after
research revealed that in many cases their income had fallen faster
than their expenditure. The NCVO is setting up a collaboration unit
to aid the work.

“Smaller organisations do not yet appear to have benefited from the
increase in statutory resources flowing to the sector as a whole,”
Etherington told the NCVO’s annual conference in London. He said
the problem had to be resolved to avoid the sector being split. “We
have always been, no matter what our size, guided by the same
principles, the same values, the same desire to do something that
makes a difference,” he said.

Research carried out by the NCVO for its Voluntary Sector
Almanac 2004
shows that the public sector is now the single
largest source of income for the voluntary sector, accounting for
nearly 37 per cent.

Etherington dismissed the view of some critics that the sector’s
increased involvement in public services was compromising its
independence as a “tired old story” that needed to be “put to bed”.
“With good governance, with good management and with good
contracts, voluntary organisations can and do deliver services and

An ICM poll commissioned by the NCVO shows that, despite the
increased flow of public money into the voluntary sector, eight out
of 10 people believe that charities campaign as much as, or more
than, five years ago.

Etherington also warned that, although the sector had grown
substantially in the past 10 years, some negative attitudes
prevailed and local authorities were still likely to axe voluntary
groups when budgets needed to be cut.

“I think in many cases we have accepted the role of junior partner
when we should have been prepared to make our case more strongly,”
he told delegates.

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